Since there could be many different Japanese guitar manufacturers, only some of them are well-recognized. Besides the famous ones, other names could be hard to tell since they only provide replicas under contracts to the foreign guitar manufacturers.
Nevertheless, some makers only produce a niche type of vintage guitar in a certain period. As a consequence, the brand name could appear on your instrument, but you do not really know if it is a Japanese product or not.
In this paperwork, a list of guitar producers in Japan will be presented. Let’s get some more information about their history as well as how they are operating in the meantime.
Top Japanese Guitar Company
The first name appearing on this list could be no other name than Yamaha since they are so familiar with their high-end musical instrument products.
There is the fact that Yamaha was initially founded to create pianos and organs. Not until the late Forties, they opened a factory of guitar construction.
Their first products were nylon-string classical design, and these were sold only by retailers domestically in the Fifties and early Sixties.
Then, what made them become so popular?
Thanks to The Beatle, the whole world had got the Beatlemania fever which created an absolute increase in demand for acoustic guitars by the mid-Sixties.
That unseen and also unexpected but colossal opportunity turned Yamaha into the giant in Japanese guitars industry.
One more important factor could be counted as well.
At that time, the company already had more than 20-year experience of designing guitars.
As a result, they quickly responded to the phenomenon by introducing their first export products in 1966: G-series classical guitars.
After that, Yamaha started to cooperate with foreign experts.
Eduardo Ferrer, a Spanish guitar designer, signed the first contract of this business.
Together, they refined the designs of its classical guitar models. Consequently, the GC-series models were developed and debuted in 1967.
What more does Yamaha contribute to the guitars lovers?
Yamaha also made electric and steel-string models.
Before selling these new lines outside the country, electric models, included the SG-series solid-body guitars plus the SB-2 solid-body bass, were distributed domestically.
Even if you have an inexpensive Yamaha guitar, it will never be a rant guitar, since:
The materials, technique and playability of Yamaha’s steel-string as well as nylon-string designs made up a remarkably better level than most other budget-priced instruments.
For more than 50 years of presence and several product lines, its quality still matches its reputation closely and is worth every penny you spend.
As a consequence, it is no doubt that Yamaha guitars are one of the best guitars for beginners as well as pro players who wanted an affordable acoustic instrument.
The second name on this list will be Takamine, another Japanese guitar manufacturer with more than half a century of existing.
Through time, Takamine has proudly dedicated itself to the art of the most excellent guitar craftsmanship.
The origin of Takamine would be a miracle.
Opening in 1959 at the foot of Mount Takamine in the central Japanese town of Sakashita, Takamine was merely a small family-run guitar shop.
At that time, no one could be aware that small shop would achieve glaring success and become the giant Takamine company in manufacturing guitar industry.
Since 1962, it took the mountain’s name after gaining extreme popularity in Japan.
In the beginning, the company mainly built classical guitars and mandolins.
Then, how was the empire built?
It is widely believed that the arrival of Luthier Mass Hirade, in 1968, marked an incredible turning point in the company history.
Many effective design and manufacturing improvements were introduced by the master, which help Takamine become a leading builder in the industry. Later on, to honour his contribution, many classical guitar models were tagged Hirade’s name.
For years of consistently research and development, Takamine keeps enhancing not only the design but also the quality of each product line to satisfy the need of players.
Whether you’re looking for your first guitar or you’re an experienced pro, a Takamine acoustic guitar is always a good choice.
The reason is that a wide range of different body styles means there’s a Takamine guitar for any player.
Take an instance:
If you prefer the loud, bold tone of a dreadnought body, check out the “GD” series. They offer plenty of great choices with a solid spruce top and mahogany back to produce rich, resonant sound well-suited for any type of music.
Or, if you would rather have something with a more classic guitar shape, Takamine’s “GN” models will promise to satisfy your need. These are made of the same beautiful-sounding mixture of tonewoods as the dreadnoughts, but with a more vintage shaping and sound.
The combination of body style and performance level depends on your own preferences and skills.
No matter which Takamine acoustic guitar you choose, it will never fail you.
Morris (Moridaira Guitars)
If the name Moridaira Guitars could sound unfamiliar, especially for a guitar beginner, this is, in fact, an alternative name of the Japanese guitar maker: Morris.
Since 1967 up to now, Morris has been distributing numerous high-quality handcrafted musical products in Nagano, Japan.
Turning back in time, in 1964, the founder of the company, Mr. Toshio Moridaira, went to Kalamazoo, Michigan and visited the Gibson factory.
By that occasion, he got the American nickname “Mori” from an employee at Gibson. Three years later, he founded a company and named it Morris, based on the nickname he had gotten in the past.
That is the whole story about the so American name of this Japanese guitar brand. Interesting, isn’t it?
Nowadays, Morris guitars are considered as premium acoustic instruments for fingerstyle guitarists.
So as to attain the best quality, there are two production techniques applied to make these guitars.
The first one is “Luthier Made” – one master handles the entire procedure. Meanwhile, “Hand Made” is another technique which is performed by a nichque group of skilled craftsmen, majoring in particular areas of the guitar-making process.
And it even gets better.
Morris guitars own the features which are ideal for fingerstyle performance. Its strong and straight neck allows players to modify to the the shifting string tightness.
The excellent response of the body helps them transmiss all the vibration of the strings, keep the sound always balanced, and be able to enlarge the sound.
Additionally, the angle of the neck is set entirely to maintain an excellent action from in any situations. The body and the neck join tightly and steadily, to spread the sound most effectively.
The best part is:
The fingerboard has a wide enough string spacing for comfortable fingering. The saddle gives the flexible pitch adjustment, hence the instrument keeps perfect tone anywhere on the fingerboard.
Even if you are a beginner who is learning four basic fingerpicking patterns, there could be no perfect choice than a Morris guitar.
Fernandes Guitars started production in 1969 in Osaka, Japan. They have two brand names on the market; FERNANDES and BURNY.
Initially manufacturing flamenco guitars, the company stretched output over the years to include different acoustic models, electric guitars, bass guitars, amplifiers and accessories and is today one of the most famous Japanese guitar producers.
Fernandes owns the most distinctive feature, that is:
Their products are best well-known for its sustainer system which uses electromagnetism to vibrate a string for an unlimited period as long as the user continues to fret the note.
This was a considerable rise onward in electric guitar technology.
Combining the elements of traditional style and modern technique, Fernandes continues to provide an exceptional voice for the current musician, widening the boundaries of guitar manufacturing with innovative body shapes and hardware configurations.
No need to think twice if you require both vintage feel and up-to-date looks, Fernandes Guitars will suit you at its best.
Founded in 1960, Fujigen Gakki has been producing guitars and basses for many world prominent labels for more than five decades.
Fujigen began with classical vintage guitars work but soon moved to electric ones to suit a rapidly increasing demand by foreign business partners, particularly in the USA, where electric guitars were happening very widespread. Classical guitars stayed to be their main outcome in the domestic segment.
The company was a top maker with vast experience and production capacity. As a top Japanese guitar brand, they are planning to strengthen their position regarding quality over quantity as a reliable producer.
Today, the company is expanding into a global market with the aim to launch the name FUJIGEN as its original brand.
In order to claim certain independence and to realize their own design styles, the brand FGN has been launched for the overseas market.
Inside the country, they reopened two traditional workshop in Ikebukuro and Daikanyama, Tokyo.
Plus, an online shop selling FUJIGEN brand guitars and basses were presented to accomplish the mission.
And they are still doing better.
Recently, the company has been establishing a global distribution network for their brand products.
At the Tokyo custom houses, their expert staff receives special individual orders of modifying instruments and perform repair services.
Obviously, Fujigen is performing a good progress in the direction of becoming a top brand guitar manufacturer.
Hence, if you are about to own a Fujigen guitar, the product quality could no longer bother you.
Electric Sound Products (EPS)
With a small staff of three employees, ESP, stands for Electric Sound Products, was established in Shibuya Tokyo in 1975 by Hisatake Shibuya.
The company business was concerned initially with guitar repairs and custom order guitars.
After Hisatake brought in machinery to operate as a guitar retail store, they started building Navigator, a type of high-quality hand-made electric guitars.
Thanks to working closely to the players, ESP noticed the details that guitar makers usually do not pay attention. Then, they were able to create custom order high-end guitars in Japan.
Instead of providing USA guitar replicas and selling them at lower prices, the guitar maker decided to select only the best resources and hardware in an actual effort to create the best of the best.
Another fact in regards to ESP is that they started manufactured guitars for other brands.
Denoted to in the guitar business as being a “ghost builder”. This contract work was obviously fueling financially ESP dream to become a flagship brand of its own.
In the 1970s-1980s most of the well-known Japanese guitar making companies including ESP were able to produce runs of super highest quality guitars and runs of lower quality guitars simultaneously.
Yamaki Acoustic Guitars
Even though Yamaha is still going active in the electric guitar market as a manufacturer, the Yamaki brand of acoustic guitar is considered to be truly rare and valuable even it is not in playable or repairable condition at all.
Want to know why?
It is because Yamaki was originally a product line on Daion in the early Eighties. They are the design of combining three features: acoustic, electrics and solid-body.
In 1984, Daion no more imported guitars to America and was soon out of business.
Yamaki, otherwise, survived the recession of the 1980s and kept making parts for other Japanese guitar companies.
That explains why these guitars are limited, and somewhat not easy to find at present. If you see one at a flea market, yard sale, or anywhere else you should definitely try to own it.
Alvarez Acoustic Guitars
The last name appears on this list should be Alvarez Acoustic guitars, of course.
Since 1965, the popularity of Alvarez acoustic guitars has grown steadily bigger. Until today, they are still one of the leading American acoustic guitar brands.
However, do you know this brand name actually comes from Japan?
You’ll find more than enough collections to pick when you go with Alvarez.
From the body’s shape to the materials and woods used, these are all elements of an acoustic guitar that will help determine its feel and tone.
Plus, you can have peace of mind knowing that every acoustic guitar they design has come to life through experienced artisans who take pride in producing top-quality instruments for all lifetime.
Supported by unskillful and professionals worldwide, the tone and playability of an Alvarez acoustic guitar have earned them a fantastic reputation.
Whether you’re looking for a classic dreadnought or a jumbo acoustic-electric, Alvarez has an acoustic guitar to suit every style, taste and skill level.
This research may not be comprehensive and cover every Japanese guitar brands or makers due to the out of business of the companies.
There is a chance that you can run into some other names such as Atlansia, Chushin Gakki, Daimaru, Guyatone, Hayashi/Zenon, Hitachi Gakki, Hoshino Gakki Ten (Tama), Humming Bird, Kasuga Tokai, Kawai Teisco, or Zen-On, please be noticed they are all Japanese guitar products.
Furthermore, this piece of paper is subject to the writer’s knowledge. Hence, please leave your comment to add up more names in the list of Japanese guitar brands if you have information.
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